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Published: 2013-07-16 00:00:00

The shine of Hamilton’s Halo project to protect tui nesting sites and restore the iconic bird to the city is spreading outside the Waikato.

Ship rats and possums are the main enemy of native birds and have decimated their populations in the region.

The “Halo” brand refers to a ring of pest control carried out at tui breeding sites around Hamilton. The project, which has been running for five years, involves intensive pest control at these sites, predominantly targeting rats. Control takes place late winter, just prior to the spring breeding season.

“The Halo project is a ground-breaking initiative that has produced dramatic positive results very quickly,” said Waikato Regional Council’s natural heritage programme manager Kevin Collins, in a statement to mark Biosecurity Month.

“Due to its success, the techniques used in the Hamilton Halo project have been recognised as a tool that can be used elsewhere for native bird recovery, and there is interest in both the North and South Islands in using the Waikato-developed approach.”

The latest Hamilton city biennial bird count report by Landcare Research said the abundance of tui in Hamilton increased significantly between 2004 and 2012 in all areas and seasons, and recommended the current effective control of possums and ship rats by the regional council in forest areas surrounding Hamilton should continue.

“With tui now commonly seen in urban areas as a result of Halo, the regional council is working closely with Hamilton City Council to undertake pest control in the city’s gully systems and riverside reserves to protect breeding birds in Hamilton itself,” said Mr Collins.

“Halo is a great example of what can be achieved when it comes to protecting native species from the fatal impact of imported pests.”

Mr Collins said planting native trees which supported species such as tui was a way the general public could be involved in helping to restore biodiversity to the city.

Waikato has one of the highest rates of biodiversity loss compared with other regions in New Zealand – for example, only 26 per cent of the region remains in native vegetation and this is fragmented into thousands of patches, mostly in the hill country.

Anyone wanting advice on controlling pest plants or animals, or planting for biodiversity purposes, can contact the council’s biosecurity team on 0800 800 401.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to take part in Waikato Regional Council’s Hamilton Halo photo competition being run to coincide with Biosecurity Month.

The council competition is for photos of a tui, bellbird or kereru taken within 20 kilometres of Hamilton, with prizes for best overall photo and a people’s choice award.

The competition is being supported by the Waikato Times, with photographer Peter Drury joining the judging panel.

Prizes for best overall photo include a one year family pass to Hamilton Zoo and an A3 print of the winning photo on canvas. The prize for the people’s choice award is a copy of Raglan wildlife photographer Trevor Penfold’s Visions of Nature – New Zealand’s Wild in the West.

Entries should be sent to with details of who took the photo and where. Entries close Wednesday, 31 July 2013.

For more information on how to identify tui and bellbirds, as well as on the competition, go to or

A gardener’s guide has been developed to assist residents in selecting plants that are good food sources for native birds. Copies of the gardener’s guide are available by visiting or by phoning 0800 800 401.